Monday, March 17, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

It is a simple fact of life that among the joy and festivities of the holiday season, sometimes we find ourselves to be the bearer of bad news. It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must disclose a sad event that took place within the Blaggards camp. Tom Ryan has officially run out of opinions.

At approximately 10:00 PM on Wednesday, December 5th during our weekly band dinner, Tom announced that "he actually liked the new Justin Timberlake CD" and in a sad and futile effort to put weight behind his words, made us listen to it.

The track he played, which thankfully went nameless preventing me from remembering anything about it, was infinite proof that Tom no longer was capable of rendering an opinion. An excellent example of the watered-down, over-processed pap that passes as R&B these days, Mr. Timberlake did his best Michael Jackson little boy warble over what sounded like a demo song on a portable keyboard.

The night had started off as usual. The Blaggards blasted through a bunch of songs in eager anticipation of the meal that Heidy was preparing upstairs. When we finished Tom took his customary post-practice shower, and ever the DJ, cued up his iTunes playlist which usually consisted of some esoteric, but somewhat listenable oddity that he "happened" to pull out that week. "This is a group of Monks who actually hum Thelonious Monk tunes - it's fascinating and I can't stop listening to it!" Then things went decidedly further south.

At first the Blaggards were speechless. Then we all thought it was a joke - occasionally Tom has shown flashes of a sense of humor. As we realized that he was actually serious we attempted to shake him out of it, hoping to give him a musical Heimlich maneuver sadly to no avail.

It may seem that watching a critic run out of opinions is like watching a baseball pitcher lose his arm or an opera singer lose her voice. However there is a major difference. In the case of critics, when they did have opinions, they didn't matter anyway. So although we felt a tinge of sadness with Tom's new found affections for Justin, we also took heart in the fact that we didn't have to listen to his comments on any other music from now on! After all, when Father Magillacuddy fondles little Timmy in the rectory, it kind of takes the punch out his Sunday homily. Yes, just like Imus, Barry Bonds and Senator Clark, we will never be able to look at Tom and his past opinions in quite the same way.

It is up to us to help him put a positive spin on this. Perhaps now he can concentrate on other things in his life, like oh let's say, drumming? It's not like being a critic was a good thing to begin with. Critics, like those fake holidays created by the greeting card companies, were created to sell newspapers, not as an actual meter of good or bad. The first critic, Og, was joyfully stoned to death after commenting on his neighbor's cave paintings. Unfortunately that sort of response has gone out of vogue. Similar to the old adage, "those who can do, those who can't teach" critics render opinions on the those who actually possess some kind of talent. If you care to argue that fact, read the previous sentence a few times aloud before going down that path. The simple truth is that critics are only useful to those who have absolutely no ability to determine whether they like something or not on their own. History is littered with their worthless rants - "Shakespeare, Smakespere" or "This Sinatra kid shouldn't quit his day job." Their attempts to be barometers of "cool" are even more pathetic - "Sigur Ros - The New Beatles!" or "Robert Pollard releases so much stuff that he must be a genius!"

You might attempt to build a case in arguing that even within things that suck, there are levels of suckiness. I am not going to dispute the fact the Justin Timberlake has legions of fans who deliver truck loads of money to his door every day. It's quite possible that among the insipid group of bland, ex-Mousekeeter pop stars that he is the best. However you can rest assured that aside from typing that last sentence I will never spend another second giving that any theory another thought. Sadly for Tom, he did and now is apparently no longer possess the ability to think rationally.

Tom Ryan is not the first person to be brought down by a moment of weakness. There are certainly any number of spirits - both ingested and imagined - that could have contributed to this gaff. Whatever the reason, it was still a sad moment to witness. In his defense he did try to slightly backspin his way to credibility by remarking that Timberlake was "hysterical on Saturday Night Live" a show that hasn't been truly funny since 1978. A sad and interesting ploy, as if being good at something else increases your musical validity. "I just found out that the bass player in Paper Lace likes kittens! Now I see "Billy Don't Be A Hero" in a whole new light!" Too little, too late Mr. Ryan.

As Blaggards do, we will stand by our man. That is until he attempts to get us to "appreciate" Mariah Carey or T-Pain. Then the only advice I can offer Tom is the last word that the aforementioned Og heard before the stones flew - Duck!

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